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Ehrlund EHR-H Vocal Microphone

John McJunkin • Road TestsSeptember 2019 • September 11, 2019

For decades, the standard workhorse microphones for handheld use in live sound applications have been of dynamic topology. Dynamic handheld mics from numerous manufacturers are used because they deliver good quality audio and they’re tough as nails. They’re durable and roadworthy — two attributes that are critical for touring, and very desirable for live sound in fixed locations. Of course we use condenser mics for other live sound applications, but most of the handheld mics are dynamic. In recent years, handheld condenser mics have been gaining popularity, with offerings from several manufacturers; quality mics that deliver excellent audio, but are tough enough to survive the rigors of the live sound environment. Now, Swedish manufacturer Ehrlund has tossed its hat into the ring with the new EHR-H, which caries a street price of $799.

‡‡         Try Angles

Ehrlund Microphones was founded by inventor Goran Ehrlund, and they offer a line of well-regarded studio mics that feature a unique attribute that is not found in many other microphones: diaphragms that are not circular. Taking a different than usual approach, the EHR-H diaphragm is triangular — a shape that dissipates resonances much more quickly than its circular counterparts. The membrane that vibrates sympathetically with the sound it’s capturing should not exhibit a lengthy decay in its resonance, and the triangular membrane does indeed deliver a better performance than circular membranes in this regard. The result is that the captured sound is clearer and transient response is better. Large diaphragm condenser mics deliver more signal and sound more natural than those with small diaphragms, but small diaphragms respond more quickly to transients. The triangle design delivers the best of both worlds; the open, natural response of a large diaphragm, and the quick response to transients of a small diaphragm. The design is a bit unorthodox, but it works well, and the results are good.

‡‡         Physical Description of the EHR-H

The mic ships in a high quality zippered hard case that also contains a clip. The mic is formed of aircraft-grade aluminum with a hardened nickel-plated stainless steel grill. This truly substantial grill design is clearly capable of protecting the mic element inside. The mic’s shape is the traditional handheld form factor, with a cylindrical grip that exhibits a bit of a bulge along its midsection. The business end of the mic, housing its element, appears a bit larger than most of the handheld mics to which we are accustomed. Around the base of that larger section are 12 holes — the mic’s phase-shift network to create the mic’s cardioid polar pattern. The surface of the mic’s body is an eye-pleasing matte black powder coat that feels good in the hand. The mic body has flat edges to prevent rolling.

‡‡         Tech Specs

Ehrlund publishes a frequency range of 7 Hz to 87 kHz for the mic, and a plot of the response shows it to be quite flat from 80 Hz up through the audible spectrum, with the exception of a small bump of approximately 1 dB at just over 200Hz and a more pronounced increase in response of around 3 dB starting just below 8k Hz and extending up beyond the audible portion of the spectrum. Sensitivity is stated to be -42 dBV/Pa (at 1k Hz), and the published equivalent noise level is < 9 dBA. The mic’s stated maximum SPL handling is 155 dB, with 0.5% THD at 131 dB and 1.0% THD at 136 dB. Ehrlund states a signal-to-noise ratio of 85 dBA and dynamic range of 127 dB. The mic requires 48V phantom power and consumes 2.0 mA of current.

‡‡         Is It Tough Enough?

Upon removing the mic from its case, it becomes clear that it’s well made. It weighs in at 272g, and feels moderately hefty in the hand. It feels solid and looks substantial, and while it may not easily tolerate the storied abuse frequently dished out to handheld dynamics made by other manufacturers, it’s also clear that it doesn’t need to be babied and coddled like the kind of condenser mics we’re accustomed to using in the studio. I may not drive nails with it, but I also feel like I don’t need to cradle and protect it as if it were made of glass. I would submit that the subtle, high fidelity signal the mic captures is more likely to be deployed for more sophisticated acts — jazz, folk, and a cappella spring right to mind — but it would be fine even for the stage theatrics and rough trade of rock or punk.

‡‡         How Does It Sound?

The obvious application of a handheld mic is vocal work, so that’s where I focused my test drive of the EHR-H. I shot the mic out against a Neumann U87ai and a Shure SM7B in order to gain a comparison with common condenser and dynamic mics. I recorded a rap vocal and a female pop lead vocal, using identical mic preamplifiers — specifically three channels of a Grace m801. Upon listening to these three mics I was quite pleased. The U87 sounded exactly as I expected — clear and with the expected low-end rolloff with the mic’s HPF engaged. The SM7B also performed as expected — lacking a bit of the high-end definition that the U87 captured, but still quite nice, particularly for the rap performance.

The capture by the EHR-H was also excellent, with lows emphasized a bit (ostensibly a result of proximity effect). The most striking feature of the signal from the EHR-H, however, was the mids and highs. While this segment of the spectrum was not exaggerated in terms of level, it had a higher degree of clarity than the Shure or the Neumann. I expected that the Ehrlund would deliver more clarity than the dynamic mic, but the additional degree of clarity from the EHR-H as compared with the Neumann was a bit of a surprise to me.

Bearing in mind the similar bumps in high-end response from both condenser mics, I presumed they’d sound pretty similar, but there was a higher degree of clarity from the Ehrlund. I always prefer to quantify characteristics like this, and prefer objective measurement over subjective descriptions, but in this case, I really have no other way to relate the difference other than to say that the Ehrlund mic simply sounds clearer without a significant difference in high frequency energy between the two mics.

The slightly exaggerated low-end from the Ehrlund is easily remedied with a little EQ, but it’s not an overly problematic amount of bass. In fact, I’m certain that the existence of that proximity effect is reassuring to those who have sung into handheld dynamic mics over the years. It feels comfortable and familiar in that way. The mic’s handling noise is sufficiently low that no one will be bothered by it. Bottom line here, this mic delivers exactly what you’d expect from a condenser mic, and with a startling degree of clarity.

‡‡         Conclusion

The Ehrlund EHR-H ticks all the boxes that we’d want to see in a handheld condenser microphone for use in live sound applications. It’s well-built and sturdy; durable enough to withstand the rigors of the road. Its form factor and performance are familiar to vocalists and speakers who are accustomed to handheld dynamic mics. This quality comes, of course, at a higher price than dynamic handheld vocal mics, but it’s right in league with other major players in the handheld condenser market. In particular, I can strongly recommend considering the Ehrlund EHR-H, particularly for vocal performances that would be well served by a microphone that captures a higher degree of clarity.

At a Glance

Studio Sound Comes to the Live Stage

A Swedish studio mic manufacturer enters the live market with a new slant — a high-performance handheld model that combines a triangular diaphragm with patented phase and linear frequency electronics.

Ehrlund EHR-H Vocal Microphone

PROS

  • Delivers impressive clarity
  • Tough enough for the road
  • Low self-noise

CONS

  • Not inexpensive, at $799
  • No onboard rolloff or pad switches

STATS

Type: Handheld condenser
Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
Frequency Range: 7 Hz — 87,000 Hz
Sensitivity at 1kHz: -42 dBV/Pa (8 mV/Pa)
EIN (self-noise): < 9 dBA
Dynamic Range: 127 dB
Max SPL: 155 dB
Power Requirement: 48 VDC phantom
Materials: Aluminum body, stainless-steel grill
Dimensions: 2.1” x 7.16”
Weight: 9.6 ounces

Price: $ 799/street

Manufacturer: Ehrlund

More Info: www.ehrlund.se

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